Project Goals/Objectives: This project will continue statewide implementation of the Texas Well Owner Network (TWON) program, which builds institutional and local capacity to improve and protect both well water and surface water quality by improving awareness of water quality issues and increasing knowledge of best management practices (BMPs). The training includes methods for safeguarding well water quality for landowners and their families and others relying on the availability of high quality groundwater stored by aquifers. Because improved understanding of water quality, human impacts and management practices to improve well and surface water quality will help to forestall off-site transport of coliform bacteria and nutrients to surface waters, TWON is an effective tool to bring to bear in watershed protection plan (WPP) and Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) implementation where investigations indicate bacterial and nutrient contributions. The program is delivered through (1) “Well Educated” programs of 4-6 hours, (2) “Well Informed” programs of 1-2 hours, and (3) evaluation of the program so that needed modifications and improvements can be made. Both versions of the program include opportunities for participants to have a water well sample screened for bacteria, nitrate and total dissolved solids (TDS). Program activities, deliverables, accounting and reporting will be managed by Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) in cooperation with the Texas A&M Department of Soil and Crop Sciences (SCSC) and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension BAEN.
Youth Education Component: Across Texas’ waterbodies, the management and protection of water quality continues to be a key issue of influencing the development WPPs. The development of WPPs helps Texas water professionals bring funding, resources, and strategies to affected watershed areas that, when implemented effectively, can help lead to significant improvements in water quality across the state. An essential strategy in the WPP process is an effective education and outreach campaign. Education and outreach efforts towards the Texas community on water quality and nonpoint source pollution brings needed awareness to a community’s current water quality situation and influences long-term behavioral changes. A typical education and outreach campaign targets Texas adults, but a key demographic that needs to be targeted is Texas youth. According to the United States Census Bureau, population estimates for the state of Texas in 2019 estimated that 25.5% of the total Texas population, close to 29 million, was compromised of individuals who were under the age of 18 (United States Census Bureau, Jul. 2019)1. Today, there is no state programming standard to educate our future leaders on the importance of watershed protection planning and protecting Texas’ water quality. Water professionals today must investigate ways to incorporate Texas youth in their water education campaigns if they are wanting their efforts to have long-term success.
Costs: $757,749 (Federal); $491,766 (Non-Federal); $1,249,515 (Total)
Partners: TSSWCB, TWRI, SCSC, BAEN, TWDB, Texas A&M AgriLife-The Dallas Center, Texas A&M University, College of Engineering, Spark